5 min with… Karen Ward from Optimum Health

As a special Sunday treat, we have another business women on the blog this week – Karen Ward! I have been following Karen for a while now on Facebook and learnt so much about eating better and looking after my health. I have learnt so much since following her on Facebook! So I was thrilled when she agreed to come on the blog! Please make sure to give her some love on Facebook and check out her website as well!
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Tell us about your business!
As a Nutritional Therapist I support people on their path back to health working with them to tailor individualized healthy eating plans using real food and nutrients as the tool. The cross section of people I see in my clinic range from those simply looking to improve their current levels of health to those suffering from more serious health concerns and in need of more specialised nutrition advice. As a former Crohns disease sufferer I have a special interest in autoimmunity and all areas of digestive health including Crohns, Colitis and IBS, those diagnosed with Coeliac disease helping them ensure their gluten free meal plans are healthy and balanced as so much gluten free food is processed and full of sugar.

As a mum of 2 small girls I’m really passionate about family health and the power healthy eating plays in helping build and maintain a tip top healthy immune system keeping bugs at bay as best it can.

In addition to Nutritional Therapy I use the latest Advances in bio-energetic health screening technology to provide a unique testing service in my clinic commonly known as bio-resonance testing. Additional testing options available include diagnostic laboratory tests for hormone imbalances, digestive health (stool tests), Adrenal Stress Tests and Food intolerance testing. I regularly present at Nutrition and Wellness Seminars, Do live demos on Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Superfood/Paleo/Grain Free Eating and regularly present at wellness workshops, conferences, schools and colleges.

Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?

With a young family it provides me with great flexibility to have greater life balance (Well I’m striving for it anyway). I find working for myself so incredibly rewarding. When I see the positive impact healthy eating has on people’s lives and on their health conditions I feel blessed to have found a career that is also my passion.  My business stemmed from personal Ill health and having seen firsthand the effect chaning how I ate had on my health I was compelled to learn more.

What were you doing before you started your business?

After years in the Telecoms Sector as a project Manager my company shut down in Mahon as I found myself without a job. I fell ill soon after this and it was during my recover that I happened upon a course in Cork with the College of Naturopathic Nutrition (CNM) it was this that truly changed my life and that which enabled me to turn my passion into a career.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date? 

Being asked regularly asked to present in schools, sports clubs health expos – and being recognised in my own right as someone who has immense passion for what I do and who walks the walk not just talks the talk.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

Follow your gut instinct and listen to your heart – it’s generally right.  What is meant for you will not pass you by which pretty much sums up the last 7 years of my life. I feel like my illness was a bizarre blessing in disguise as it made me look hard at my life and how I was living. Illness is often a way of the body shouting at us when we are not listening to the signs and I firmly believe that many clouds has a silver lining.

Which advice would you give to women who would like to start their own business?

Follow your passion and it won’t always feel like a job. It takes time to build a business and find that pushing myself to think as positively as possible about the future coupled with hard work will set you up for success. Having a strong network of friends and family has been my foundation rock as it me enables me to do what I do. Without the support of my husband, parents and friends I would find childcare an real struggle. This is the downside to running a business in Ireland and the supports and structures for women in the workplace are sadly lacking. Women are sadly are left with no other option than expensive childcare costs in an effort to keep their presence in the workplace. My advice to other women is to cut yourself some slack every now and then – its difficult to be all things to all people and self care is often a much neglected aspect of our crazy lives. I have learned over time that its ok to ask for help and reach out when things get tough.

If you could start your business all over again, what would you do differently?

Absolutely nothing!!

Where do you shop?

Local Farmers Markets, Independent Health shops and get as much of my produce from my local veg/egg/honey producers in the Oysterhaven area.

What do you wish you had more of in your life?

Time 😉

What do you wish you had less of? 

A need to be on the computer – much prefer being out and about meeting people than up late doing paperwork.

What’s your favourite ‘me time’ activity?

Walking in Garretstown Woods with hubby, kids and the dog and going to Divas for coffee on the way home.

You have a night off (from the kids) and unlimited funds: what do you do?

Head to Bantry, lunch at Organico, catch a movie at the small local cinema with hubby Steve and then a yummy seafood dinner.

What are your top 3 favourite places in Cork?

All my favourite places are on the sea.  The old head of Kinsale and Garettstown as its close to where I grew up as a small child. Oysterhaven (my new home in the past 5 years) Kinsale (my home most of my life and where my family and friend are mostly, great food and local independant shops.

What’s your favourite bar and restaurant in Cork?

Fishy Fishy Kinsale

Which two women in business would you like to see on the blog?

Bonnie Connolly Wear we Wander Kate McCarthy Bikram Yoga Cork

Website: kwoptimumhealth.ie
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/KarenWardOptimumHealth
Twitter @karenwardhealth